Slimmer Kim Jong Un not a body double, spy agency says after AI analysis of images
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has dropped about 20 kilograms (44 pounds), South Korea’s spy agency believes, and it dismissed speculation he was using a body double.
Kim tipped the scales at about 140 kg in 2019 and has dropped weight since then, the agency told lawmakers Thursday. Its estimates were based on optimal facial analysis, weight-tracking models and an analysis of high-resolution video, ruling party representative Kim Byung-kee told reporters.
The agency said rumors the North Korean leader had been using a body double were groundless, based on their analysis that also used artificial intelligence. It added Kim appeared to be in good health, the lawmaker said.
The 37-year-old leader — overweight and a smoker — has been the subject of health speculation for years and his public appearances are closely tracked for insights about the autocratic and secretive regime in Pyongyang, especially since his family has a history of heart disease.
Kim has cut a much trimmer figure at his public appearances over the past few months, including a military parade in September and an expo of the state’s latest nuclear-capable weapons in October.
He has been looking to rally support as North Korea is facing one of its worst food shortage in years. The North Korean leader said he feels like he’s walking on thin ice, referring to the food shortage problem, according to Kim Byung-kee. “Kim instructed authorities to secure as much food as possible,” the lawmaker said.
Kim Jong Un’s decision to shut borders due to COVID has made matters worse, cutting off its little legal trade and helping cause one of the biggest economic contractions in more than two decades, according to Fitch Solutions.